Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest artists of all time created this amazing drawing around 1490. He was supposed to give the answer to an old geometric problem that mathematicians wanted to answer since Pythagoras time: What is a philosophical solution to the nature of man?
It is named Vitruvian, since Leonardo worked at that time on the writings of a Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio.
According to Wikipedia:
The drawing is based on the correlations of ideal human proportions with geometry described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in Book III of his treatise De architectura. Vitruvius described the human figure as being the principal source of proportion among the classical orders of architecture. Vitruvius determined that the ideal body should be eight heads high. Leonardo’s drawing is traditionally named in honour of the architect. The drawing and text are sometimes called the Canon of Proportions or, less often, Proportions of Man. It is kept in the Gabinetto dei disegni e stampe of the Gallerie dell’Accademia, in Venice, Italy, under reference 228. Like most works on paper, it is displayed to the public only occasionally.
In the third book of De Architectura Vitruvius wrote the following:
“The navel is in the centre of the human body, and, if in a man lying with his face upward, and his hands and feet extended, from his navel as the centre, a circle be described, it will touch his fingers and toes. It is not alone by a circle, that the human body is thus circumscribed, as may be seen by placing it within a square.
For measuring from the feet to the crown of the head, and then across the arms fully extended, we find the latter measure equal to the former; so that lines at right angles to each other, enclosing the figure, will form a square.”
Vitruvius list also gives a list of ratios or proportions among body parts (hands, feet, cubit, arms, navel, etc.).
And to learn more, here is one great video about the Vitruvian 🙂